"What you don’t want to have happen in a race is to slow down gradually over the course of the event."
I'm filing that little gem under, "things I know but which I cannot implement." All you have to do is take one look at my 5 and 10K splits to know I am the Poster Girl of Positive Splits. Just call me PGPS ("P-Gips").
.2 @ 7:36
Classic. What's occurring in the races above is that I'm going out overly fast, which causes me to slow at a greater rate than would have been the case had I been more conservative early on.
So I have to ask myself why, if I know running an even pace or a negative split produces the best times, do I not race that way? The answer probably lies in a combination of things: Lack of discipline in carrying out the race plan, fear, insecurity, adrenaline, and perhaps not enough patience. Since it has to do with human nature, it's probably complex. Luckily, I don't believe I have to know why I do something in order to be able to fix it. Whew!
2010 may well be my Year Of Learning To Race Well. Too bad YOLTRW isn't a witty acronym. That would've been cool.
It all kicks off with successfully following the race plan on Saturday. This race will primarily be an exercise in following the race plan (F-TRP). If following the race plan produces a time I'm happy with, all the better. If I run a time I am not happy with, but I implement the race plan to perfection, I will consider it a success.
I've divided the race into four quarters of 1.5 miles each and I've devised a strategy for mentally managing each quarter.
Q1. In the first 1.5 miles I will simply try to hold back. I say simply, but I know that holding back in the first mile or so is the most diificult task of this entire race plan. This quarter needs to feel the easiest with RPE (Rating of Perceived Exertion) being the lowest of the race — and far lower than what my mind will be telling me to do. RPE is everything here. If I start breathing hard here I went out much too fast.
Q2. In miles 1.5 through 3 miles, I'll run at 7:54 goal average pace. RPE should be only slightly harder here than it was for the first quarter. I'll concentrate on form and my breathing here, while being careful not to get caught up in "racing". I will concentrate on my own race.
Q3. Miles 3 - 4.5 are the toughest in a 10K. If I slow down, this is when it will happen. The purpose of the first half of the race was to prepare me for this section. If I have controlled my effort and stayed in the moment earlier on, I will now be able to maintain average pace, although it will now feel much harder. In other words, RPE will rise rapidly even though my body is not working any harder than before. During this quarter I should expect a lot of negative thoughts and feelings. That's normal, so I'll expect it, but not listen to it. I'll maintain focus and effort in this quarter, and do whatever I need to do mentally to get through this section of the race. Again, this is the toughest section, even if I paced properly earlier. If I didn't, then this part will be incredibly depressing.
Q4. In miles 4.5 through 6.2, the end is mentally in sight. I should feel capable of increasing the RPE. Now is when I can race others IF I held back in quarters 1 and 2. I'll try to gain on someone up the road. I'll concentrate on that target. As I come into the hill at the finish, I'll begin to increase the effort gradually. I'll try to pass someone here as everyone is tired. I'll go hard, but if I can sprint that means I held back too much. I want to finish feeling as if nothing was left on the course.
Tomorrow, when I'm doing my interval workout, I'm ging to do each interval using the strategy I'll employ for that quarter in the race. I don't want to wait until race day to practice this.
I'm out for blood,PGPS...You have been warned.